Monday, December 10, 2012

be original

Last night at FLOCK we had a night I liked to entitle: "be original"

The night coincided with what has come to be known as "sex and dating night". A night where the focus of FLOCK is about the truth regarding our human sexuality in the way God created it and how we are called to live out relationships between the opposite sex. I always like to joke when Sara says "next week we're going to have 'sex and dating night'!" that it's purely theoretical and not at all practicing... Haha, get it? Kind of funny?

Anyways, I decided today to write a blog about what we talked about to share that with those who weren't there and at the same time, further encourage the ones who were. So, here we go...

The idea behind "be original" is that when Pope John Paul II (from here on out he shall be referenced as JP2) came out with his "Theology of the Body", he started it off in a way that Jesus Himself approached the topic of relationships and sexuality. In Matthew 19, some Pharisees approached Jesus and tested him by asking about divorce and why Moses allowed people to do so. Jesus responded: "Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so." It is this beginning that Jesus mentioned that caught the attention of JP2. From this beginning he came up with what he liked to call "the original experiences". These original experiences are what Adam and Eve went through before the fall that disordered our true desire for sex and relationships. The ones we specifically referenced were "original solitude", "original unity" and "original nakedness". If we look at these original experiences, if we go back to the beginning as Jesus and JP2 did, we can get a better grasp of how we are to go about relationships, especially those that involve the opposite sex.

Original solitude: this is when God first created Adam using the account of creation from the second chapter of Genesis. God created Adam alone. Not with Eve. Not even with animals. Just man and God. When Adam was alone with God in solitude. Why was it this way? Why did God create Adam without Eve first? Why not just create them both together? Maybe God wanted Adam to be alone... Maybe God wanted Adam to realize who he was and what he was created for without any other distractions... Maybe God wanted Adam to see his true identity, his primary reason for being before he had the chance to live it out... Maybe God wanted Adam to see that He alone satisfies, that Adam can only be truly fulfilled by God His Creator and that it is in God He will find his ultimate happiness... It is in solitude that we come to know who we are and God can truly reveal to us what we are created for. We are created for God. In original solitude we recognize and claim our identity.

Original unity: "The LORD God said: It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suited to him." Genesis 2: 18 God Himself states that it is not good for Adam to be alone. Although he was created in solitude, he was not meant for it. So God creates all the wild animals and brings them before Adam so that he could name them. Yet, it states "none proved to be a helper suited to the man." Why does God do this? If none of these animals provided Adam a suitable helper, why does He create them first? Maybe it is so that Adam realizes and recognizes what he was created for... Maybe it is in naming these wild animals and birds of the air that Adam understands none of them are suitable to help him live out who he is... Maybe in bringing them before him first Adam sees that they don't help fulfill his innermost being, one that is relational and that is meant to love in God's image who is Love... Then God creates Eve from Adam's side and how does Adam respond? "This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh" Gen. 2: 23. Adam sees in Eve that she is like him. He sees that in Eve he can live out what he was created for. He sees that in Eve he can fulfill his innermost being which is to image God's love which is relational. He can now love as God loves with a total gift of self to another. This is original unity. It is man recognizing that he was made for relationships so that he can image the love of God.

Original nakedness: "The man and his wife were both naked, yet they felt no shame." Gen. 2: 25 This is where Adam and Eve, together living out what they were created to be, were able to do this in such a way that they felt no shame. They could live in unity with each other without being afraid of who they were created to be. Why was this the case? Why was it important to mention that they were naked and yet felt no shame? Maybe this is because when you know your identity and know who you are and what you were created for you have nothing to be ashamed of... Maybe it is because when you are able to perfectly live out the image of God with another, this image that is a sincere gift of self to the other, you have nothing to fear... Maybe when you see others as the persons that they are, as the children of God that they are, there is no reason to cover up... This is original nakedness. Living in the reality of who God created you to be and not being ashamed of it, afraid of what others think, or feeling like you need to cover up so others don't see you for who you really are. Original nakedness is all about interior freedom.

So... Why does this matter? How does this relate to high school students? The answer:

be original.

Be original in your solitude. If you are single and not dating anyone at the moment, GOOD! Take this time of solitude as an opportunity to work on your identity. Take this time to really come to know who you are and what you were created for. DEFINITELY use this time to realize that God alone satisfies! That God is the one who brings you ultimate fulfillment, happiness, joy, and peace and nothing else can! Be in relationship with HIM for that is what you were created for! Truly high school and even college are meant to be times of solitude. Times in which you come to know who you are and what you were created for and to realize that God is your ultimate end and greatest relationship. Who cares if it seems like every one else is dating right now. How many of those people that you know are dating, whether they are your friends or not, claim their identity as their relationship with that person? That's not true! That's not real! And how difficult will it be for them to find out who they really are when they no longer are dating that person? Our identity comes from solitude, not from another person, and those people who never let themselves be in solitude will never truly know who they are. This is your time to become the BEST POSSIBLE GIFT YOU CAN BE so that the day you realize what you were created for, and who you were created for (as in a future spouse) you can offer it to them in all sincerity! Use this time of solitude as an opportunity to enter into relationship with God, to grow in prayer and virtue and to become the best possible gift you can be.

Be original in your unity. Realize that you were meant for relationships. JP 2 says
"Man, who is the only creature on earth that God willed for its own sake, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of self.”
It is in the sincere gift of self to another that we come to fully find ourselves. Our identity in who we are and what we were created for is found fully in a sincere gift of self. In high school and even in college, you are best able to practice this in friendships, not in dating. We practice this gift of self in sincere friendships so that we can live it out in our vocation. Every relationship's most solid foundation is in friendship. This is where unity grows. This is where unity flourishes. Now's the time to practice sincere friendships. Focus on your friendships now instead of putting all your attention into a boyfriend or girlfriend. We all know those couples who put all their energy into each other and spending time with each other, and then when that relationship is over they no longer have solid friendships any more or even know how to create solid friendships. Practice the art of friendship so that when you are ready to embrace your vocation, when you are able to live out Gen. 2: 24 (which states "That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body." And I sincerely doubt that any high school student and very rarely are there college students who are able and ready to "leave their father and mother"...) then you will be able to experience the unity that you were originally created for in a more perfect way! And truly, the epitome of experiencing intimacy within a relationship is not the sexual embrace. So often our culture today is telling us that the highest of intimacy between people is sex, but this is not true. This is only true if it is a sincere gift of self. And a sincere gift of self cannot happen without commitment, without totality, without faithfulness and without the openness to new life. And this can only happen within the confines of the Sacrament of Marriage.  This is where original unity is in its perfect form. 

Then you will be able to be original in your nakedness. No, I'm not talking about throwing off the clothes and going streakin' (bring your green hat!). The nakedness I'm talking about is to live out who you are, who you were created to be, the VERY CORE of your personhood in all transparency without any shame, fear, or feelings of wanting to cover up. You will be able to be your true self. When you know your identity, and you surround yourself with people who you not only practice gift of self with sincerely, but they return this as well, then you are able to truly be yourself. You are free. You are not worried of what others think of you or if someone else is judging you. You don't care if you'll get backlash for living out the purest desires of your heart (and I do mean pure desires of your heart. There are still very disordered desires of our heart that if we live them out, they don't bring freedom, they only bring slavery to sin). And this comes from the knowledge of being a child of God. If you know that you are a child of God and that it is God who fulfills you and satisfies you above all else and you know that all others are children of God as well, then you will do all that you can to live out who He created you to be and to accept who He created others to be. This is original nakedness. And this is what we all want. To be completely ourselves without fear, shame or worry.

So, as I just rambled on for way too long, and knowing that many of you, more than likely, probably quit reading this by now, I end by stating that if a high school student were to ask me for my advice regarding sex and dating in high school I would simply tell them:

be original.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Suuuuperman! Oct 30th, Entry #111.


In case you ever wondered how they did the special effects in the Superman movies.

Nailed it!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Selfies. Oct 29th, Entry #110.


Oh selfies.  Slightly annoying when they fill up all the space on your phone, but really, they're usually just funny.  And the most funny part is that the people who typically take them don't assume they'll end up anywhere but on someones phone/camera.  Haha....wrong!  If you're going to take them, I'm going to put them up.  So maybe next time, think before you shoot.  (Or don't and then I can just add more to the blog)

Enjoy world.

What happens at AP FLOCK. Oct 24th, Entry #109.


Really, I don't have anything to add to this video or any qualifications.  I can't even say that this night was different than normal.  I really do try to lead the youth of our parish to Christ, but sometimes there is only so much I can do to keep from laughing at them or stopping them.  Eventually we can reel them in but some weeks are kind of hopeless, this being one of them.

So, if you've never come to AP FLOCK, I bet you want to now!

#iphoneprobs (working on getting a better video)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Oh, what's in a name? Oct 8th, Entry #108.

Last night, as I was venturing back towards the front of the room to get things started, I noticed 3 kiddos drawing on the board.  As I was about to tell them to move it so we could pray I looked at their drawings and learned that they were drawing their last names.  Yes, drawing their last names.  All thanks to one kiddo who had drawn a cloud on his name tag next to his name, because his last name, cleverly enough, is Cloud.  Well, these other kids wanted to do the same even though their names were not nearly as easy to draw.  Did that stop them, or the rest of the kids, from trying anyways?  Absolutely not.  Hilarious.

Check out their artwork.

The big picture.


Some of the easier ones.

Yup, just like it looks like.
Actual name = Lock

Horn + ung = Hornung

D + haze
Actual name = Dehais

Some of the more difficult ones.

Mac + n + cup of tea
Actual name = McEntee
Bush + angry/rowdy eyes and arms
Actual name = Roudebush  (hahaha)

Rowboat + back + er
Actual name = Robacker

Glee + s + man
Actual name = Gliesman 

Totally the hardest one and I would never have been clever enough to come up with this.

M + eyes + z + in (the box) + Bach (the musician)
Actual name = Meinzenbach

Now for Chris and I, because hey, it our blog so we can do what we want.

Brick wall + crying tears.
Actual name = Walters

Scissors + sheep.  What do you call it when you cut the hair of a sheep?  Shearing. 
Actual name = Sheerin.  Get it??  (I'm sooo clever)
And now, for the ones that just cracked me up.

Wonder + lick
Actual name = Wonderlich  (YES!!)

Yup, it's just what it looks like.
Actual name = Hickey 

Things like this have become some of my favorites parts of this job.  When random stuff like this happens organically and everyone gets into it.  I couldn't have planned an activity like this.  I wouldn't even have thought of it.  But these kids are so stinkin' clever and funny that incidents just like this one happen all the time.  And then, even more than anything else, these kiddos take ownership of this place and this youth group and these people.  It becomes theirs in a way that I could never make happen.  One more reason why we have the best job ever.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

"So call me, maybe" - Jesus. Oct 4th, Entry #107.


So, here I am world. On this blog entitled "We have the best job ever", writing to you all for the first time from this avenue. And the first thing I'd like to say is: you're welcome...

That's right! You're welcome...

With this first post that is truly the 107th from the blog, I'd like to share with you an adventure, nay an excursion, better yet, a divine experience that I had from yesterday's preparation of GIFT our middle school youth group.

The purpose of the night was to talk to these 6th, 7th and 8th graders about how we were all created by God and for God. (It's in the Catechism. Check it out! CCC# 27 You've just been Catechized!) We are all created for and called to relationship with God. At every moment of our lives, from the very first moment of our existence, God has been calling us to a relationship with Him.

Of course, as we brainstorm how to make this theme relatable to our teens, the hit pop song "Call me, maybe" comes to mind. (I don't know if you've heard of it. It's by Carly Rae Jepsen. It is quite fun to dance to and sing along with. Many people have made their own videos to this song. Take for instance: Harvard baseball team, Olympic Woman's swim team...) Our theme for the night then takes on the title; "Call me, Maybe".

Then, LIGHTNING STRUCK! Sitting with Sara in our office, laughter ensued as the divinely inspired thought of creating our own "Call me, Maybe" video was epiphanized. We contacted our GIFTed Leaders (our high school helpers for GIFT), bought a Jesus beard and wig, and this is what happened:

As humorous as it is, there is a deeper theme. Certainly we can all laugh at the thought of Jesus dancing and singing with angels to the lyrical genius of Carly Rae, but even further is how our hearts may be touched by this message. Jesus is saying to all of us at every moment "Call me, Maybe". He longs to be in relationship with us! He wants us to call Him and talk to Him so that we may get to know Him and be known by Him. Yet, Jesus is God and God is love, and God's greatest act of love towards us His creation is the gift of free will. We are free to choose God's love and we are free to not choose God's love. We are free to call God and have a relationship with Him. But we are also free to not call Him. 
This is the love of God in that He created us out of love and created us to know His love and be in His love in relationship with Him, yet He allows us to choose it. It is our choice. That is love. St. John even says in his first letter: "In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins." (1 John 4: 10) He loves us first. He calls us first. But He gives us the freedom, out of love, to call Him.
God wants us to call Him! At every moment of every day of our entire lives ever since we came into existence God is calling out to us, yearning, longing, desiring deeply to be in relationship with us! But, He loves us too much to force this upon us so He gives us the freedom to choose it.
God is always saying to us "Call me".
But He always leaves at the end "maybe".
Because it is our choice.
So call Him.

It's your choice.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

He is jealous for me. Sept 30th, Entry #106.

This past Sunday at FLOCK our focus was "Jesus".  Yeah, ok, good luck explaining that in an hour and a half.  What was I thinking trying to break out this ginormous topics from the Nicene Creed at FLOCK this semester??  But, Chris has done a good job of reigning me in each week when I have a mountain of ideas for the topic but no flow.  He asks, "what do you want the kids to walk away knowing?".  Well, if I can only have one thing it's that Jesus loves you.

The worst thing is, that just sounds like every Religious Ed class you ever had in 3rd grade.  Jesus loves you.  But the truth of it is hard to ignore.  The hard part is convincing teens that it's true.  Totally, wholly, unbelievably, unshakably, unchangingly TRUE.  How many people really believe that?  How many people even think about that on a regular basis?

And that got me thinking about the song "How He Loves" by the David Crowder Band.  The first line of the song is "He is jealous for me".  He is jealous for me.  Jesus is jealous for ME??  really?  me?

So not only does he love you, he is jealous for you, he doesn't want to share you, he is selfish for your time.  Wow.

Our God, the creator of the universe, the founder of our Church, the maker of all things good and holy....wants nothing but to know us and to be known by us.  Personally.  Each one of us.  All the time.

He is waiting for us.


We ended the night with about 20 minutes of adoration.  We don't do adoration very often at FLOCK, but tonight was definitely the night to do it.  I always hope it will go over well.  That the teens aren't secretly texting or just trying to stay awake.  I mean, I don't really care b/c you can't underestimate the power of Christ sitting in front of you and what he can do.  But you never know what's going on in their brains.

After the night was done and during the next day, I got about 5 different texts telling me how much they needed that prayer time, or how great the night was or asking if they could get the code to the adoration chapel.  They all thanked me.  Me?  I didn't do anything?

Thank the Holy was his idea.  I just followed his lead.